How to Identify Your Apple TV Model

Apple Tv Differences Hero

Apple, sadly, did not do a great job of making the various Apple TVs visually distinct from one another – at least, not in an immediately obvious way. As a result, it can be hard to tell the difference between all of Apple’s similar-looking Apple TV offerings, especially in secondhand marketplaces like eBay. Use this guide to identify your Apple TV model and learn the key differences between different models of Apple TV, both in hardware and software.

Rapid Identification

Look for these ports when scanning the back of the device for rapid identification and answer the following questions:

  • Is it silvery-white with component video inputs? If so, it’s an Apple TV 1st Generation.
  • Does it have Micro-USB and optical audio? If so, it’s an Apple TV 2nd or 3rd Generation. For further differentiation, check the model number on the bottom of the device or in “Settings -> General -> About -> Model” on the Apple TV.
  • Does it have a USB-C port? If so, it’s an Apple TV HD (previously Apple TV 4th generation).
  • Does it not have a USB port of any kind? If so, it’s an Apple TV 4K.

Checking the Model Number

Appletv Model Number Location

If you have an Apple TV 2nd or 3rd generation, they’re visually indistinguishable. But they do have different model numbers.

To check your model number, look at the bottom of the device. At the bottom of the label you’ll see regulatory text and logos. In the first line scan for the “Made in China” text. Immediately after that line you’ll see the model number prefixed with an A.

You can also find the model number within tvOS. Navigate to “Settings -> General -> About -> Model” to see the model number, prefixed with an A.

Tvos11 Apple Tv Settings General About

  • A1218 is 1st generation.
  • A1378 is 2nd generation.
  • A1427 is 3rd generation.
  • A1469 is 3rd generation.
  • A1625 is 4th generation HD.
  • A1842 is 4K

Two 3rd Generation Model Numbers?

The two 3rd-generation models come from the early 2012 and early 2013 models. The newer early 2013 model of the Apple TV 3rd generation has an A5 processor build on a smaller 28nm process size compared to the early 2012’s original 32nm process size. The early 2013 Apple TV 3rd generation also adds support for peer-to-peer AirPlay.

Feature Differences

Ports that are familiar to most users or visually notable are in bold. These ports can be used to identify the Apple TVs quickly. All take the same power supply and use visually-indistinguishable Ethernet connectors.

Apple TV 4K

Apple Tv 4k Ports Connectors

  • HDMI 2.0a (2160p, Dolby Vision, and HDR10)
  • Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac)
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • No USB Port

Apple TV HD (Previously, Apple TV Fourth-Generation)

Apple Tv Hd Fourth Gen Ports Connectors

  • HDMI 1.4 (720p or 1080p)
  • Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB‑C above HDMI port

Apple TV (3rd generation)

Apple Tv 3gen Ports Connectors

  • HDMI (720p or 1080p)
  • Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
  • Optical audio
  • Micro-USB below HDMI port

Apple TV (2nd generation)

Apple Tv 2gen Ports Connectors

  • HDMI (720p)
  • Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
  • Optical audio
  • Micro-USB below HDMI port

Apple TV (1st generation)

Apple Tv 1gen Ports Connectors

  • HDMI and component video (480p or 720p)
  • Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n)
  • Optical and RCA stereo audio
  • USB 2.0 (for service and support)
  • Rectangular shape
  • Silver and clear plastic chassis

Conclusion

If you have access to the Apple TV or can see pictures of the Apple TV’s ports, you’ll be able to reliably distinguish its feature set. But the most informative side is actually the bottom of the device where the model number is printed. That can be directly translated into the exact model, with no need to try and visually separate ports. To see a complete accounting of all the differences between each Apple TV generation, check out EveryMac’s database of Apple hardware.

Image credit: Simon Yeo

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